Homeowner products vs professional products for weed control

Discussion in 'Pesticide & Herbicide Application' started by CW-DXer, Apr 21, 2013.

  1. CW-DXer

    CW-DXer LawnSite Member
    Messages: 40

    Hi all,

    I am a homeowner in NJ who does all my own work on my 9000 square foot lawn consisting of a mixture of fescues, ryes and KBG variants. The lawn has a lot of deep shade in the back and north side, and sun/shade elsewhere. I am not a licensed pesticide applicator. I'm always seemingly behind the curve in terms of weed control and am constantly overseeding. This year I'm really hoping to get a head start on things and not be as far behind the 8-ball in 2014.

    I buy almost everything from JDL, and this year's Dimension+fert application is working wonders, but along with the turfgrass I got some bittercress popping up, and seedheads for something I can't identify, mostly along the curb line. Foxtail, too, I suspect.

    I hit the bittercress and a few small broadleaf plants with Bonide's Weed Beater Ultra (a slightly-hot mixture from concentrate @2oz/gal). Killed the flowers in a day and the plants are yellowing but not dead yet. I know from experience that by late July I will have plantain up the wazoo, despite heavy core-aeration last year and overseeding--there are still bare spots that never germinated after that overseeding--that I want to fill in later this year. The Dimension application prevents me from doing this at this juncture, of course.

    So all that background leads to my main question. I'd say my lawn is about 90+ percent weed free at the moment and all I do is spot treat as I see them pop up. What are the major differences in weed control that the selective herbicides a professional applicator would use (3-way, Momentum, etc) versus what is available to the homeowner? Would there be any benefit to calling in a pro for a broadcast treatment with stuff I can't use myself or am I best off just alternating treatments with Weed Beater Ultra and Weed-B-Gon Max in a handheld pump sprayer as need arises? Are the professional strength products' weed killing properties that much better than what's available to me or is it mostly an issue of cost-effectiveness to turf professionals who require high volumes of product for their hundreds of customers?

    I still have some timeline questions for this year that I'll post separately, but I'm really curious about the efficacy of consumer products. Cost isn't an issue. Safe and effective weed control is. Thanks in advance.
  2. MalasHierbas

    MalasHierbas LawnSite Member
    Messages: 26

    chemicals arent an issue i woudnt think more of the type of spray adjuvants that are added I dont see available to home owners unless in a ready to use mixture though i could be wrong. also application method would be different between home owner and professional. an example is a solo/lesco sprayer sprays at max 60psi where as a birchmeyer backpack can far exceed that . not that you would need any higher psi it is just an example of quality of equipment. droplet size for coverage would be another difference. to stay on point in the past few years i have seen all of my main chems available to home owners
  3. greendoctor

    greendoctor LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,136

    I agree. Its not the chemicals. Its the application equipment. Not many homeowners, never mind "landscapers" have equipment that will apply liquids evenly, accurately and with good coverage of leaf surfaces. I do not spray lawns with a conventional backpack or hand held 2 gallon sprayer. For one thing, the hand piece used is designed to apply a set volume of liquid per 1000 sq ft without drift, roll off from leaves and complete coverage of the target area.
  4. Ric

    Ric LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 11,969


    IMHO It isn't the Product or the Equipment so much as the Knowledge and Experience of the applicator. I have a Used TG/CL Cab over truck. TG/CL is infamous $ 8.00 hr new hires. I will bet my bottom dollar that truck never did the same quality work it does now that I owned it. By the same token I believe I can take a homeowner 1 gallon pump up sprayer and kill the hard weeds. It would take me longer but the results would be good.

    AS for products! GUP (General Use Pesticides) are not limited to Professional only. Any one tall enough to put their money on the counter can purchase GUP products. As for RUP (Restricted Use Pesticide) that only certified and Licensed professionals can purchase and legally use, I don't need to use them.

    Of course as a Real Professional, I only want to use quality equipment.

    Last edited: Apr 21, 2013
  5. greendoctor

    greendoctor LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,136

    Combine knowledge and experience with good equipment, that separates the professionals from the DIYers. Having said that, someone with knowledge and experience would not want to make do with inadequate equipment. I have met many people in the business that are perfectly happy to make do with poor equipment. There's a good reason for the B & G hand can, the $700 engine drive backpack, and the hand pieces that quick couples to either sprayer. I could do an almost equivalent job with what is sold in the garden department at HD. Might take longer and cost more per acre. As you said, it is not what you do, but how you do it.
  6. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,810

    you are on the right track. But I think you need a back pack sprayer. Can do a better job. Also, Ortho weed and crabrass killer is a good bet. I have been told Weed be Gone no longer comes without crabgrass killer in it. So perhaps at times you would want to use Ortho Clover Oxalis and Chickweed Control (Purple label).
    Perhaps you would want to include a spreader-sticker or surfactant to help wet the weeds better. Be sure to read and understand the label directions so that you are using the full amount allowed by law.

    Also, be sure you treat at the early stages--hit the weeds when they are young. Before they are 2 inches tall--old and tough weeds are rather persistant. Remember there are cool weather weeds--hit 'em early. And there are the hot weather annuals--hit'em early, before they get out of hand. And be sure to check for winter annuals--they start and are almost invisible in fall--but if not sprayed in fall...they arise early in spring (chickweed, bittercress, veronica).
  7. CW-DXer

    CW-DXer LawnSite Member
    Messages: 40

    May I ask what the difference is between the two for treating individual weeds or along a curb line? I'm all for doing the job properly and learning the right technique, but a backpack almost seems overkill for my particular situation. Am I missing something obvious here?

    The WBG I use does, indeed, come with CG control, but of all the weeds I encounter on my properly, CG is the one I suffer from the least. Really it's right along the curb line, near the mailbox and in about 10' from the roadway. Since the lawn itself in that area is generally pretty healthy only a few weeds pop up here and there. Plantain and foxtail (and this other seed-head thing I'm seeing now, possibly poa annua?) are the problem children here.

    I do use the Lesco-sold sticker-spreader (one large capful per gallon, I was told ought to do the trick). As for using the "full amount allowed by law," they give a range of concentrations of x ounces per gallon. I usually go about halfway in that range; I'm afraid that if I max it out and I over-apply I'll wind up damaging the desired surrounding grass. I think that's what happened last summer when I hit the plantain hard with the Bonide product at the maximum concentration on an 80 degree week. Got the plantain but a lot of lawn die-out as well.

    Here's where I'm in a quandry. I want to get this stuff in the fall, but I'm also aerating/overseeding in the fall. I'm hesitant to use anything for weeds once I do the overseed. Our family has a big get together the week after Labour Day and we need the place in top shape by then, so my lawn work usually begins on the 2nd Monday in September with the aeration/seeding. By the time all the new plants are up and healthy it's late-October (4-6 weeks) and things are cooling down rapidly. At that point I'm applying lime and winter fert. What should I be doing for weeds in the fall? I asked Lesco about an application of Dimension in October but they said no. Colour me confused here.
  8. RigglePLC

    RigglePLC LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 13,810

    After the first frost is fine for treating the winter annuals, also the dandelions which are perennial, (but frequently sprout in the fall). A thorough treatment in fall usually means no dandelions at all in the spring.

    Naturally, it takes some experimentation with hand equipment to get the rate of application per thousand sqft correct. Put one gallon of water in you hand sprayer and spray concrete until you run out. Measure the sqft of the area covered. That is your sqft per gallon. Base your mix on that figure. Of course, it all depends on your walking speed, width of the swath, nozzle adjustment, pumped pressure. Repeat until consistent, and take an average of three trial runs. Mark the sprayer with marker as to mix rate.
    For best results at least one of your weed treatments should be broadcast overall (not-spot spray). With spot spray you just never see all the small weeds.
    Dimension does not kill most broadleaf weeds. However, in the fall Dimension, blocks the germination of Poa annua seeds. Do not use it if you are overseeding. And do not use cheap seed. Get the top quality seed--making sure it is suited to your climate, disease resistant, and genetically dark green.
  9. DA Quality Lawn & YS

    DA Quality Lawn & YS LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,296

    OP invest in a Hudson Never Pump electric backpack for not too much, and you will be able to apply more evenly.
    As for homeowner herbicides vs. RUP's for professionals, same actives are used basically, but commercial herbs have much more ai in them per volume than homeowner. Homeowner stuff essentially watered down koolaid.
  10. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    When spot spraying broadleaf weeds the most common mistake that I've observed by h.o.s is NOT spraying when the weeds are 'actively growing',,, i.e. plenty of moisture with comfortable temps... Just a thot... :)

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